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Week 19 - farewells and new beginnings

[ 1836 to 1836 ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 45: Proclamation and Celebration ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 43: Kangaroo Island ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 40 - Finally! The harbour is found ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 37: Building a Home ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 36: Family Life ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 35: Pastimes ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 34 - a tempest ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 26: Whose story? ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 25 - The demon drink ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 22: In Good Time ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 20 - infectious disease ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 18 - the port of Rio ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 16: Crossing the Line ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 16 - towards Australia ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 15 - high drama on the John Pirie ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 08: Employment ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 06 : Weathering the Storm ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 05: Ship Shape ]

This week sees the unhappy passengers and crew of the Cygnet still anchored in Rio Harbour.  While Boyle Travers Finniss chafes under continuing delays, the crew mutinies, refusing all work.  Brazilian soldiers come to arrest four of the ringleaders, but the defiant crew insists on a mass arrest.  The captain seeks solace in drink.

We finally hear something of the voyage of the Emma, from a letter written by South Australian Company employee Charles Hare. Even at this early stage of the voyage we can see tensions emerging on this ship too, with the passengers dividing along village lines to quarrel with one another. Hare thinks that some good sermonizing is called for and proceeds to deliver it, but the captain’s wife has other ideas and she prevails. Hare’s grumble to Angas about the interference of ‘Mrs Captain Nelson’ reflects resentment commonly expressed at this time, at ‘petticoat government’ – meaning any attempts by women to assert authority.

On the John Pirie meanwhile, tragedy finally strikes. Mrs Chandler continues to decline, despite all attempts to nurse her back to health, and on 1 July she finally dies, in considerable pain and mental anguish, afraid for the ‘future Welfare of her soul’. We see a second burial at sea, a melancholy affair, with Mrs Chandler’s body sewn into ‘two or three old Sack’s’ [sic] and committed to the sea, weighed down with iron to make it sink. We can only guess at the feelings of her husband and young children.

At about the same time Mary Thomas, on board the Africaine, bids a tearful farewell to England. She has particular reason to be fearful, because unbeknown to the authorities, she has brought two sick children on board, and the third is now ill too, with the highly contagious and potentially deadly scarlet fever.  If the disease spreads the death rate amongst other children on board could be very high.

At sea in the ‘Africaine’, 1836. by John Michael Skipper. Courtesy of the Art Gallery of South Australia.

Also on board the Africaine is Robert Gouger, whose views sometimes differ from those of Mary Thomas. He is travelling with his wife Harriet, and describes her anguish at parting from her family, perhaps for ever.

Journals from passengers at sea:

Week 42: Numeracy Onboard

Over the past eight months we have read many journal entries, diaries and letters describing the experiences, thoughts, ideas and feelings of those onboard the nine ships. We have followed the authors…

[ Read the full journal extract ]

Week 25 – The demon drink

[ | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | , on board the | | | | | | | | wrote.]

On land It is one week into the grand experiment of colonisation and things are not going well at Nepean Bay. Samuel Stephens and Captains Morgan and Ross have their hands full, with both the company …

[ Read the full journal extract ]

Week 20 – infectious disease

[ | | | | | | | | | | , on board the | | | | | | wrote.]

The Duke of York is now in the Southern Ocean, making good progress. It is Captain Morgan’s wife’s birthday and he reflects endearingly on his love for her and his happiness in the married state….

[ Read the full journal extract ]

Week 14 – steady progress

[ | | | | | | | | | , on board the | | | | | wrote.]

All six ships are making steady progress, sailing south in the Atlantic. The weather is fine and conditions pleasant, but relations on board the John Pirie and the Cygnet are tense. On the John Pirie …

[ Read the full journal extract ]

Week 13 – tensions reach breaking point

[ | | | | | | | , on board the | | | | | wrote.]

This week we catch up with the Cygnet as it approaches the Equator. A bout of bad weather has seen many of the passengers sick and conditions below deck are foul. Boyle Travers Finniss is impatient with…

[ Read the full journal extract ]

Week 06 – a ‘perfect Hurricane’

[ | | | | , on board the | | | wrote.]

On 26 March the John Pirie seemed to be making progress, as it finally cleared the English Channel and struck out for the Atlantic Ocean. But just west of the Bay of Biscay the weather worsened…

[ Read the full journal extract ]